By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Indian River Habitat for Humanity is getting a head start on spring cleaning next month a month-long makeover for two Gifford neighborhoods.
The Treasure Coast Plaza and Pine View Park neighborhoods inside the Gifford community have been selected for the first-ever "Rock the Block Around the Clock" neighborhood revitalization initiative project by the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate and sponsors and volunteers are still needed, organizers said.
The kickoff is scheduled for March 1 at 8 a.m. in the neighborhoods.
Instead of doing a one-day or all-weekend event where hundreds of volunteers come out to help fix up one or two homes, Rock the Block Around the Clock will take place during the week and on the weekends.
More than 20 homes are scheduled to be spruced up with paint, landscaping and minor repairs during the month-long March make-over blitz, said LaKisha Erwin, volunteer and sponsor coordinator for the event.
This event is a new way for Indian River Habitat for Humanity to develop its neighborhood revitalization program, which works with existing homeowners not necessarily in the Habitat home program, and supports and promotes home ownership and community development.
"We are the first affiliate in the country to branch out and do something this big," Ms. Erwin said.
Philanthropists Lou and Joanne Hagopian are the lead sponsors of the event and there are plenty of opportunities for churches, businesses, other organizations and agencies as well as individuals to participate, Ms. Erwin said.
A $10,000 T-shirt sponsorship position is open, as are $2,000 sponsorships for individual homes and food sponsorships for $500.
"We want to make a good impact on the area and we are estimating each home project will cost $2,000. That includes the paint, the brushes and other supplies. It also includes sod that need might need replacing, mulch and flowers," Ms. Erwin said.
"We also like to feed our volunteers that are working, so that is why we have food sponsorships available as well," she said.
All of the homes already on the list for revitalization are owner-occupied, but it is possible that some vacant homes may receive some minor attention, such as trimming grass or clearing waste, Ms. Erwin said.
Volunteers from community churches, college students on spring break, civic groups, businesses and individuals would all be welcome additions to the Habitat team during this premier event, organizers said.
Mini celebrations will be held each Saturday during the month-long event, culminating in a big block party celebration on April 5 at 11 a.m.
During the block party, other community organizations and agencies are invited to set up booths and bring information about their services and programs or products straight to the residents, Ms. Erwin said.
"We would love a collaboration between the agencies. Fitness programs, daycares, mental illness, counseling; there really is a place for everyone," Ms. Erwin said.
Since 1991, Indian River Habitat for Humanity has served more than 430 Indian River County low-income families by building more than 305 new homes, rehabilitating and making available for a Habitat homebuyer more than 53 homes, and repairing more than 73 homes through the neighborhood revitalization initiative program, a press release said.
For more information about Rock the Block or Indian River Habitat for Humanity, call (772) 562-9860 or visit www.irchabitat.org.